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									Building a Requirements
Community of Practice
      Belinda Honigfort

Why Attend An IIBA Meeting?
   So why do we all attend these Columbus IIBA meetings?

        We‟re trying to learn new things outside of our company.
        We want to know what other people and companies are doing.
        Share information.

        We care about other companies – do we care as much about our own?
             Do we even know what those in our discipline are doing within our
              own company?

   Nationwide leadership decided Nationwide should have „officially
    established, enterprise-wide Communities of Practice (CoPs)‟.
        Stop doing individual CoPs within the lines of business (LOBs).
        Reduce administrative overhead, reduce duplication, and encourage
         cross-LOB communication.

   These directives were channeled down through the Centers of Excellence for
    the various disciplines.

   My boss came to me and said, “We need to build a requirements community
    of practice. I‟ve tagged you to coordinate it.”

What Is A Community of Practice?
   Wikipedia:
        The concept of a Community of Practice refers to the process of social
         learning that occurs when people who have a common interest in
         some subject or problem collaborate over an extended period to share
         ideas, find solutions, and build innovations. It refers as well to the
         stable group that is formed from such regular interactions.

   Nationwide:
        A CoP is a group of associates who have a common interest in some
         subject or problem, collaborate over a period of time to share ideas,
         find solutions, and build innovations.
        Opting-in to CoPs that are both outside and inside your discipline is

The Nationwide Requirements CoP exists to facilitate interaction among
   different groups in the enterprise to:

   Promote collaboration

   Share best practices & lessons learned

   Exchange information

   Promote innovation

   Increase productivity

   Solve problems

   Promote networking & mentoring

   Cross organizational boundaries
Interesting Dichotomy
   Try to do a real CoP, which is supposed to be a grass roots effort, built
    from the ground up, where people connect because they want to

                        …in balance with the fact that …

   We are trying to serve the entire analyst population at Nationwide (over
    1300 associates) and make it meaningful for them.

Getting Started
   Find the people that headed up the individual LOB‟s CoPs – they became
    the Requirements CoP Representatives.

   Idea: Continue with the LOB meetings and then take topics and expand
    them to the larger enterprise audience.

   Didn’t work: It was double work for them and double attendance for the

   So: Kept the meetings only at the enterprise level.

   It has proven to be a successful strategy.

CoP Representatives
   These associates are the CoP representatives who meet weekly to plan the
    bi-monthly meetings:

        Connie Kobal
        Dan Clausing
        Erin Myers
        George Kalec
        Jennifer Reed – Des Moines
        Teri Berg – Scottsdale

Sponsored CoP
   HR for IT (known as IT Workforce Effectiveness) sponsors 10 CoPs
    throughout the enterprise.

   „Sponsor‟ means they:
        Advertise
        Provide communications help
        Provide an opt-in/opt-out service.

   Opt-in allows anyone who has an interest to sign up, not just those within
    the requirements discipline
        Associates can opt-in to CoPs outside of their discipline
        This encourages cross-discipline communication.

Representatives Responsibilities
   We discuss what topics would be most interesting for the attendees,
    especially because there is great diversity among the knowledge areas and
    skill levels of associates in the job family.

        We all want to make the meetings interesting, informative and,
         hopefully, interactive.
        We also use feedback from the post-meeting surveys.

   Each of us takes a bit of the responsibility to get the prep-work done.

   The representatives like it because they now know more about other LOBs
    – truly the first level of a Community of Practice!

2008 and 2009 Topics
    June 2008
       Introduce the CoP concept
       Q&A with leadership
       Requirements Management Tools
           Five projects – different tools, different uses
    September 2008
       Business Acumen
           Business Areas of Nationwide - Learning about the LOBs
    November 2008
       Elicitation Techniques
       Elicitation – Brainstorming Tools
            „What ever happened to the fourth little pig?‟
    February 2009
         Internal and External Networking
         People Spotlight!
Organizing A CoP Meeting
   Plan for 90 minutes. Sometimes that feels like forever, sometimes not
    nearly enough!

   Topics and Presenters
        Each representative helps get presenters.
        All of us help to shape the presentation.
        Each representative works with their presenter in their LOB to get the

   Always work at making it interactive.

   Remember WIIFM.

Organizing A CoP Meeting (cont.)
   We all review the presentations and suggest edits.
   We do a dry-run of each meeting.
        We‟ve had some tweaks to presentations because of this and it‟s
         worked well.

   Topics have to be meaningful to the audience.
        We really spend time thinking if this is going to be interesting to the

Regular Features Such As Spotlight!
   We ask five associates to fill out their profile details in Connections,
    Nationwide‟s internal Facebook-style pages before the meeting including
    adding their picture.

   In the meeting, they give a two minute introduction.
            Someone can then possible tag that person in the future if they
             have a particular need/question.

   It gave those people who don‟t normally volunteer to do presentations an
    opportunity to be a more involved part of a meeting.


Video and Audio Conference
   We host from an auditorium in our downtown office and then do video
    conferencing to multiple locations around the US: Tuttle area, Des Moines,
    IA and Scottsdale, AZ.

   The video feeds show each of the remote sites in a rotation and they, in
    turn, see the location of whomever is presenting.

   We provide an operator-assisted conference call and a Sametime link.

   We create a video of each meeting and provide a link to it after the
    meeting via the Requirements Collaboration Portal.

Details, Details
   There wasn‟t a comprehensive document which explained all of the ins and
    outs of the video and audio conferencing and room scheduling.

   In order to get the meetings going, I had to figure it all out and document
        I‟m an analyst – it‟s what I do!
        Now, other CoP organizers are now coming to me to get the details for
         organizing their CoP meetings.

   This is another example of how the community helps each other.

Collaboration Portal
   There is a shared space for the Requirements CoP community.

   Within this space, a visitor can find:
        Presentations from each of the meetings
        Handouts from the meetings
        Discussion boards
        Q&A with Leadership
        Videos of each of the meetings
        General profession information
        Links to the analyst newsletter and other CoP collaboration portals

Post-Meeting Surveys
   The ITWE Steering Committee wants to track how the CoPs are doing.

   They‟ve created a standard set of questions called an Effectiveness
        Effectiveness does not focus on measuring an associates „satisfaction‟
         with an event, but rather its impact and applicability to their role or

What Are The Attendees Saying?
   “I‟m happy that we‟re interacting across LOBs.”
   “Well done. Making it interactive vs. a straight lecture is a great thing!
    Breaking us into groups and having us actually do something is very
   “This was time well spent for me.”
   “I passed the PowerPoint on to my Manager who read it agreed with me
    and passed it on to our whole team. Requirements CoP delivers!!!.”
   “I thoroughly enjoyed the activity in this meeting. It was a very nice
    change and I would enjoy participating in these sorts of activities again in
    future meetings.”

2009 and Beyond
   Five Requirements CoP meetings scheduled for 2009.

   We‟ve been asked by ITWE and Communications what they can do to
    better support the CoP.

   Our biggest need is to get management to support their associates going
    to and participating in the CoP meetings.

   Group attendance is key vs. sitting by yourself at your desk and dialing in
    to the meeting.

Lessons Learned
   Associates will respond well to efforts that are well planned, executed, and
    maintained, and others will soon lose momentum and likely discontinue.

   At least two new special interest groups have grown out of the CoPs:
      Test Automation SIG
      Facilitation SIG

   People aren‟t open to offering to speak but are very willing to speak when

   More interactive rather than less is always a good thing.

   Reactive feedback.

What’s The Takeaway?
   The details in this presentation could be adapted for both large and small

   A meeting doesn‟t have to be elaborate to be effective nor does it have to
    be small and intimate.

   Share the responsibility for coming up with topics.

   Have a common place where people can post their ideas and questions.

   Work to get management buy-in and support.

   Make it interesting to most – you‟ll never make all happy.


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